Bridge has a nightmare that ends in a fever, and he realizes that something isn't right with the world. Meanwhile, Doggy Cruger seeks something he has been looking for, and Morgana faces the shock ...
The water is cool and blue, refreshing. It washes over his naked chest, tickling skin not oft exposed. The sound of waves swishing against his body fills his ears; the sensation of current against flesh fills his eyes with the cool blue as readily as the light that reflects off the water. This is peace, perfection...
And then the water turns yellow.
Bridge Carson... the master beckons.
He tries to swim to the shore, reaching out with his mind to the lights of Newtech City. The water begins to wrap around him, to lash at his arms and legs. He fights the pressure, whipping his feet in the water, trying to find something strong to pull him through. The waves cut into his chest, reaching for his very heart.
Come to me, Bridge, it calls, I will make the pain go away.
He reaches for his belt and pulls his saving grace from beneath the water. "SPD Emergency!"
Bridge Carson yelped and sat up, looking around. Pale moonlight filtered in through the blinds, making the blue of his room almost glow. The wind whistled against the windows outside, dancing in his ears like a distant radio.
Bridge whimpered and got out of bed.
He yanked up his blue boxer shorts, bringing them from his hipline to his natural waist, and straightened the white beater that, it seemed, he had torn in the night. He removed his light leather gloves and rifled through the top drawer of his dresser. After tossing several pairs on the floor, the blue ranger finally located a simple pair of black gloves, which he placed heavily on his fingers.
Bridge raced to the door, grabbing a pale blue robe from a hook. Putting it on as he left, he locked the door with a card key he had stashed in the pocket and raced down the hall.
"B2... B001... B002... B1!"
Bridge stopped at the door, panting, not from exhaustion but from fear. He sighed heavily and tried the doorknob. It clicked stubbornly, refusing to open the door. Flinching, Bridge began to pound on the door with his fist. "SKY! SKYYYYY! OPEN THE DOOR!"
He cried out for a moment before the door slid open. Before Bridge could raise his eyes from the door lock, the sliding metal plate revealed a pair of red heart boxers, set askew on bony hips, that brought an embarrassed blush to Bridge's pale face. He quickly looked up, his eyes scanning over a naked chest, to a face nearly as pale as his own, marked by stunning blue eyes.
"SKY!" The blue ranger threw himself onto his commanding officer, pressing his face into the red ranger's shoulder. Even as they touched Bridge could feel the beginnings of psychic overload beginning, but he did not care-better overloaded by his best friend, his brother in arms, than a nightmare.
"Whoa!" Sky yelped, jumping back a little. Bridge followed, and Sky patted the younger ranger tentatively on the back. "Bridge, easy! What happened?"
"I was dreaming that I was swimming and someone was calling me and I started drowning and I think they were evil and my head is all fuzzy and I feel cold..."
Sky pushed Bridge gently away from his naked chest and then placed a hand on his friend's forehead. "You feel kinda warm, buddy. Did you try to sleep in pajamas again?"
"I think this is what I wore to bed. And I put my blankets away... Why are they keeping it so hot in here since Jack left? And why is it cold all of a sudden?"
"Bridge, you have a fever."
"I do not!"
"You do too!"
"I don't have a fever, I'm scared!"
"You're both." Sky sighed. "C'mon." He stepped back into his room and tossed a throw over his bed, then replaced his pillow with a few more decorative ones. "Lay down here, and I'll get Doctor Phillips."
"Don't leave me here all by myself! The water will get me!" Bridge rambled, walking in and flopping onto the bed.
"Right, I won't leave you." The red ranger groaned, rolling his eyes, and made his way over to a communicator panel. "Sky to Syd. You're still on duty, right?"
"Yeah," pouted his teammate. "What do you want at this time of night?"
"What time of night is it?"
"It's 4 A.M."
"Bridge is sick and freaking out. He touched me."
"He touched you? He must be pretty bad. I don't think Dr. Phillips is in town right now, but Kat just finished medic training... I can call her."
Dr. Katherine Manx knocked on the door, wiping her forehead. The base was far too hot anymore. It had taken her forever just to get out of her quarters due to the sudden necessity of sleeping in the nude. She certainly didn't enjoy being exposed, nor did she find it convenient or useful in any way. It was simply a way to avoid the infernal heat that had overtaken then base with the repairs to the building. Krueger said it was necessary to save energy by sealing the windows and crevices of the base, but Kat found that unnecessary-with the defeat of Omni, SPD's budget had been nearly doubled.
And now she was clothed, tired, sweating, and frustrated with the blue ranger.
"Kat? Come in."
The door slid open, and the technician walked in. The small dorm-sized bed was overfull with people, which is to say, only two were in it. In the back, near the wall, was a pale figure in a blue robe, wrapped up in a throw. At his side, seated, was a worried young man in red shorts and a black t-shirt.
"I see I'm missing a sleepover."
"That isn't funny, Kat," Sky chided, standing. "He won't stop rambling about swimming, yellow water, and toast. I think he had a nightmare about peeing in the pool.
"Who's making jokes now?" She knelt by the bed and looked at Bridge. "He's wearing his lead gloves... Whatever he saw must have frightened him, or have been psychic in origin."
"Kat..." A leather fingertip touched Kat's cheek.
"Bridge, can you understand me?"
"I read you loud and clear, Dr. Manx," he muttered, closing his eyes.
"What happened to you?"
"I dreamed that I was swimming and the water turned yellow and attacked me. And when I woke up I felt funny, but it's going away now."
"So what are you doing in Sky's bed?"
"His angst drowns out all the evil outside."
The red ranger cried out behind them as Kat chuckled and produced a thermometer. She checked Bridge's temperature. "He's normal... but I think you need somewhere else to sleep."
"That's not fair!" Sky grunted. "Bridge, I order you to get your lazy ass up and go back to your own room!"
The blue ranger snored.
"So where am I going to sleep?"
"That's up to you to figure out." Kat walked out of the room. As the door closed behind her, she heard the communicator beep.
He was sitting there, waiting for her, the blue winter sun complimenting his complexion. She wanted to say to herself that he was as handsome as ever, that the relief and relaxation had done him some good. She wanted to think that having his wife back would have made him happier, healthier. But his blue skin was almost gray in places... Doggie Krueger was no better in body for the battle he had won.
"Commander Krueger," she acknowledged, nodding as she entered.
"Dr. Manx, please sit." He offered. She flinched a little-normally he would have called her "Miss Manx," or just "Kat." Or at least, he would have before Aisynia returned. But ever since she had been back, he had become a different man... cold and ruthless with all but her. The warmth, the vulnerability, the benevolence of her old commander was gone with all but his wife, replaced with a perfect diplomatic indifference.
"How is Aisynia?"
"Quite well. And you, Doctor?"
"I'm tired, but well," she offered, looking into his eyes. Those dark eyes were cold, expressionless.
He nodded. "I hear you were up on a house call last night. I'm sorry there were no other certified medics on call."
"It was Bridge and Sky. Well worth it, for the comedy."
"What exactly happened?"
Kat crossed her legs. "Apparently, Bridge had a nightmare and ran to Sky. Sky says that Bridge had a fever, but his temperature was normal by the time I got there."
"Do you have any recollection of what his nightmare was about?" Doggy leaned in, his eyes boring into Kat's. He was looking for something, searching...
"Apparently he was swimming, and the water turned yellow and attacked him. Sky jokingly postulated that he dreamed of peeing in the pool."
Krueger laughed, a hollow laugh. "I think the P in SPD stands for urine."
"That seems to be R.I.C.'s policy."
"Anyway, that's all I wanted to know. You're dismissed."
"Thank you, sir." Kat got to her feet, but then Krueger grabbed her hand. "What is it, sir?"
"Miss Manx... There were some things that I never got to tell you, before the A-squad captured me."
She looked into his eyes, her heart racing. This is what she had been waiting to hear all these years... But something about it was wrong. The timing, the place, the tone in his voice... and what about Aisynia?
"Doggy..." She leaned in slightly. "There's a time for everything... and the time for this has already passed." Pulling away, she made her way toward the door, tears forming in her eyes.
She kicked her feet, stroking her doll's hair.
Morgana was grateful for what had been given to her. She did miss her youth, and the company of Grumm... but she was grateful to be free of Omni. It felt nice to have her mind under her own control again, and she rejoiced in this new freedom even as she sat in lockup. However, something at the back of her mind tugged at her... a remnant of that thing that Grumm had followed.
She whimpered, looking at her hands. She wanted to draw a tribute to her freedom, her happiness... She wanted to create something, anything. But a stipulation of the plea bargain had been that she would have no access to anything that could be used to draw... The only thing she could use would be her own blood, and such an activity would send her back to a confinement card. She would refrain.
She sighed sadly, wishing for something to happen... but then she frowned as the wish came true. A scream echoed through the compound, and at once she knew whose it was.
"GRUMM!" she cried.
The scream came again, accompanied by a sound she could not quite decipher. She cried his name over and over, but no one came. His screams died away, but hers did not; she lost track of the hours before a medic finally came and sedated her.
Billy Cranston sighed heavily.
It was a beautiful day on Aquitar, and things could not be better. He had never been so happy. It was the first day, he found, that he did not regret the choice he made.
He looked up at the sky, smiling at its color... but gasped as it turned yellow. He ran the possibilities through his mind, trying to determine what anomaly could cause such a change. Even with the pace of his thoughts, he only managed to form two of them...
His train of thought ended in a flash of yellow light.